Virtually every state in Nigeria faces electricity supply challenges, which have crippled businesses and a lot of social activities. Worst still, there is scarcity of fuel. In this piece, GOLOK NANMWA, our Plateau State Correspondent examines how power consumers in the state are clamouring for return of the moribund Plateau Electricity Cooperation in order to generate and power the state’s economy.
Electricity supply is nose diving throughout Nigeria. In Plateau State, for instance, some operators of small scale business within Jos, the state capital, have been groaning saying that their operations have been hampered by epileptic electricity supply and persisting petrol scarcity. A hairdresser who spoke to our correspondent in Abatior area of Jos South LGA who gave her name as Victoria Alan, said that the epileptic power supply is seriously affecting their business.
She said that “I could only serve few of my clients because of non-steady electricity and with the ongoing scarcity of fuel, I am unable to provide services to my clients”. She called on the government to do everything possible to tackle the issue of epileptic power in the country headlong because it is affecting the image of the present administration”.
Illiya Solomon, a barber in Dogon Karfe area of Jos said the poor supply of power and petrol scarcity have forced his business operations down. What he now does skeletal services to his customers. He therefore called on government to ensure that the fuel scarcity is tackled in order to save him the agony of searching for petrol to operate his electricity generator when ever there is no public power supply.
A restaurant and bar owner in the state who does not want her name in print lamented that the electricity supply around her locality in Bukuru is poor and that she was disappointed with the difficulty in getting petrol as a result of the scarcity. She said “I am operating at a loss because I get petrol for almost 1,000 naira for a gallon for my generator in order to run my refrigerator so as to keep my chickens, fishes and other items cold and fresh.
“The epileptic power supply has also been a challenge as we hardly get light for 2 hours in a day”, she added.
Meanwhile to tackle the issues of poor power supply in the state, the Plateau State government has said that plans are currently on going to resuscitate the Plateau Electricity Cooperation. Mr. David Wuyep, Plateau’s Commissioner for Water Resources and Energy, disclosed this to newsmen in Jos recently.
He said .“The State government is putting in mechanism to resuscitate the Plateau Electricity Cooperation. However this time around, it wouldn’t just be a an electricity cooperation but an energy cooperation. Energy is way beyond electricity. Electricity is just one of the forms of energy”, he disclosed.
Wuyep revealed that the bill for the resuscitation of the moribund cooperation is in the State House of Assembly and that it would soon be passed into law so that the Plateau Energy Cooperation could commence operation. He disclosed that the State is blessed with three out of the four major sources of renewable energy.
“Plateau has over 20 hydro-points where we can generate hydro-electricity. It is a good shed for water and it drains into various river basins and streams where we can easily generate electricity because it’s on slope and that gives us natural kinetic energy with which we can generate electricity.
“Plateau is also the 3rd highest solar radiation point in Nigeria after the North-East and North-West so this puts us at a vantage position to generate Solar energy. The state is also lying along three wind corridors that have the highest speed in the country almost on the index 3 and 4 that means we are well poised to generate electricity using wind” he explained. Furthermore, he disclosed that the Cooperation would be engaged in the generation and distribution of such within and outside the state.
It could also be recalled that recently the state House of Assembly had charged Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the state to devise means of generating revenue for government to cushion the effect of dwindling economic situation. The MDAs were challenged when defending their 2016 budget proposals before various committees of the Assembly recently in Jos.
Challenging the state’s Ministry for Water and Energy, the chairman of the House Committee on Water Resources, Mr Peter Ibrahim, urged the ministry to look inward with a view to generating more revenue for government. ’’You are a revenue generating ministry, and with the present dwindling economic saga, we have to think deep and work assiduously to generate money for the runnings of government.
’’As a ministry in-charge of energy and water, you have ample opportunity to generate a lot of money for government. Water and energy are essential parts of human existence and once they are available, people will not grumble to pay for it. In 2015, you generated only N13 million for government, which to my mind is nothing to write home about,’’ he said.
On improving the revenue profile of the ministry, the commissioner suggested that the moribund Plateau Electricity Corporation (PEC) should be revamped. ’’Once this corporation is resuscitated, most of the problems will be solved because it will naturally handle the issues of under staff and what have you,’’ he assured.
In a related development , Wife of the Plateau Governor, Mrs. Regina Lalong, has said that the State government is working with financial institutions to bring down interest rates to ease woman’s access to loans. According to her “There are women engaged in small scale farming and entrepreneurship, but find it very difficult to access micro-credit facilities. We are reaching out to institutions like the Bank of Industry to help such women”.
She stated this at a ceremony to mark this year’s International Women’s Day Celebration on Tuesday. Mrs Lalong said that the collaboration would focus on bringing down the interest rate to remove bottlenecks on the path to progress. The governor’s wife said that the theme for this year’s celebration -‘Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it up for Gender Equality’, was appropriate and timely in an era where woman were being acknowledged and given equal opportunities with their male counterparts.
“Women should be given equal opportunities in their endeavours and the society; they want to contribute their quota without any discrimination based on gender. We also want emphasis laid on poverty reduction for women; by making women self-reliant, poverty is reduced to the barest minimum by 2030,’’ she said. She also called on women in the state to support the APC government at all levels further assuring them that they would not let them down.
In her remarks, Mrs. Rufina Gurumyen, the Commissioner for Women Affairs, said that the inclusion of entrepreneurship training as part of the International Women’s Day activities on the Plateau was to give women the opportunity to learn the rudiments of being self-reliant. “It is only when women are self-reliant that they could manage the on-going economic melt-down that appears to be a global issue,’’ she said.
She said that the participating women who are selected from the grass root were expected to replicate the programme in their rural women communities across the 17 Local Governments.
Mrs. Sewuese Suwa, the representative of the United Nations, in her remarks, expressed concern that women accounted for 60 per cent of the world’s illiterate people. She regretted that Plateau had only one female lawmaker in its 24-member House of Assembly and urged Governor Lalong to appoint more women into leadership positions.